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‘No religion belongs on a cafeteria floor.’ Oregon school drops its Quakers mascot

KPTV SCREENSHOT

The Quakers logo on the cafeteria floor at Franklin High School bothered parent Mia Pisano, a member of the Religious Society of Friends — commonly known as Quakers.

"No religion belongs on a cafeteria floor,” Pisano said. A Portland, Oregon, school board agreed Tuesday, voting to change the school’s mascot to one without religious ties, reported The Oregonian.

Pisano and fellow parent Lisa Zuniga had been leading an effort to drop the mascot since 2015, the publication reported. The school board reviewed its policy and added a provision against mascots with religious affiliations.

"This is really a tribute to citizen activism," Julia Brim-Edwards, chair of the board, told The Oregonian. "Tradition doesn't trump doing the right thing, and it's time for a new chapter in Southeast Portland."

Teens at Franklin High School told KPTV they don’t identify with the Quakers mascot anyway. The school moved away from the mascot years ago, instead using Franklin or “F.”

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“Whenever we do chants or celebrate our team, doing anything good, we usually just call ourselves ‘Franklin,’ like ‘Go Franklin,’ ” freshman Carmen Fiarito told the station.

In fact, some students seemed unclear on exactly who or what the Quakers are, with some thinking the mascot related to Benjamin Franklin, who was not a member of the Society of Friends, KPTV reported.

But parent Kelly McCurdy told the station he found the whole thing ridiculous. "I think it’s silly, personally,” McCurdy said. “It’s not racially insensitive. I think there are plenty of things that need attending to, and the Franklin mascot isn’t one of them.”

Pisano, however, told KGW that it was wrong for the school, which has no historical ties to the Society of Friends, to appropriate an entire religion for a mascot.

"For a public school, the use of the name of a religion never had any justification," she told the station. "What if we had a school starting a new sports team and they wanted to name it the Catholics? Or the Mormons? Or the Jews? Does any public school sports team get to use the name of a religion?"

The school board says it will outline the process for selecting a new mascot in the weeks ahead.

The Society of Friends, also known as the Friends Church, are a Protestant denomination that originated in mid-17th century England. Commonly known as Quakers, they address each other as Friends.

Perhaps the most famous Quakers mascot belongs to the University of Pennsylvania, but high schools in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana, at least, also have Quakers as mascots.

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